Chocolate (advertising) Makes You (think you are) Thin

I can’t say that my heart skips a beat for sheer excitement excitement when, on my weekly trawl through the food industry news, I spot yet another headline about women’s mysterious relationship with chocolate. I guess it has the same effect on me as a reported Elvis sighting does on someone who was young in the early 60s – I just can’t stop myself from clicking on it.

So, this latest of chocolate studies was jointly spawned by the Universities of Strathclyde and Western Australia, and published in the journal Appetite. In a nutshell, the researchers showed different types of chocolate advertising to a group of women – some of whom were on a diet and some weren’t – and then shoved boxes of chocs under their drooling chins to see what would happen.

And guess what! When the women were made to watch chocolate advertising featuring skinny models, the dieters among them lost their abstemious cool, diving – at least that’s how I picture it – head first into the delectable assortment laid out in front of them. Who’d have thought…?!

The researchers interpreted this behaviour as “consumers, who were generally more restrained, perceiving themselves as being comparable to the ‘thin ideal models’, and therefore allowing themselves a temporary relaxation of eating restrictions”.

I must admit, I found it rather confusing that the researchers labelled the dieting women as “consumers who were generally more restrained”. Surely, the reason people go on a weight-loss diet in the first place is precisely because they exercise little restraint in their normal, day-to-day life. I guess the boffins used “restrained” as a shorthand for “temporarily restrained”, in as much as one might label a muzzled dog “harmless”, even if it’s rabid and frothing at the mouth.

I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about chocolate and I can eat an entire 400g bar of Toblerone in one sitting without feeling queasy. And whenever I went on a diet (I haven’t been on one for years, but I remember those days very well), I would fantasise about chocolate, cake, cookies etc. not only from dawn to dusk, but I used to dream about the stuff, in vivid technicolour, every single night for as long as the self-imposed regime would last. I’m convinced that, had I been given the choice between saving my firstborn (if I had one) from a burning building and rescuing a box of Belgian chocolate seashells, the latter would have won out. By a wide margin.

Anyway, our researchers duly concluded that chocolate advertising employing thin models (is there any other kind used in advertising?!) was probably effective. Oh my oh my oh my!  Finally Hershey, Cadbury, Kraft, Nestle, Godiva et al. have cast-iron PROOF that the millions they pour every year into promoting the devilish stuff is not just money down the drain.

Maybe it'll work with carrots???

Maybe it’ll work with carrots…?

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